[nfbwatlk] Are our rights to speak freely on airplanes still intact?

Mary ellen gabias at telus.net
Thu Mar 26 16:54:03 UTC 2015

Thank you, Debbie!  

Any reasonable person can tell the difference between a blind person who
wants control over personal mobility and a terrorist or emotionally
disturbed person who wants to cause problems for a flight.  A member of a
flight crew intent on exerting power and control can deliberately obliterate
the clear line between the two very different situations.  I believe we need
to stand up for ourselves because law ought to trump power trips.  Whether
we use the tactic of polite but firm refusal to comply with unreasonable
demands at the time, or whether we use the tactic of launching legal
challenges after the fact is a matter for personal decision.  

We fought hard for the right to keep our canes.  It would be a disservice to
that struggle if we allow the right to atrophy.  For me, the issue has gone
beyond the safety value of the cane. How dare airline people tell me I
should travel with a folding or collapsible cane!  I don't tell them what
brand or type of vehicle they should drive.  How dare they tell me I should
be the last person off when the plane lands!  How dare they restrict my
freedom of movement in any way that goes beyond the restrictions they place
on other passengers!  How dare they use me as an object on which to vent
their professional frustrations or demonstrate their ability to wield power!

-----Original Message-----
From: nfbwatlk [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Debby
Phillips via nfbwatlk
Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2015 9:10 AM
To: nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org
Subject: [nfbwatlk] Are our rights to speak freely on airplanes still

Hi all, last night, I was talking to another blind friend and we got to
talking about canes and dogs and airlines.  Her comment first was that
people should just use folding canes when flying and that would solve the
problem.  I said that I did not want the airlines to dictate whether I use a
folding cane or not.  I don't like my folding cane for really long walks, or
a lot of usage, because it's heavier than the straight NFB cane that I like
Then she said that she believed that we should just comply with flight
attendant requests and take whatever action we choose after getting off the
plane.  I said that I did not want my cane to be far away from me, like in
the front closet.  It could be that it won't matter if the plane crashes,
whether I have my cane or not.  But it could matter, so I want the option of
having it there.  And I said I wouldn't let them take more.  Or that if I
did comply, ow would quietly say that their action was not legal, and that I
would be filing a complaint.  Her response was that I should not do that, as
the flight attendants would take that as a threat, or bullying or some such,
and that in this day and age with all the terrible things that have
happened, we should just protest off the plane.  Now of course, this might
be the prudent thing to do.  But is it the right thing to do? In the end of
course, we each will have to decide for ourselves.  I said to her and to the
two husbands, "Don't you see how our rights are slowly being taken away? We
are afraid to ask someone's name because they might be offended and think we
are bullying them.  We must quietly comply with flight attendant requests,
whether they are rational, or even legal.  Otherwise we might get thrown off
the plane, or even worse, turned over to TSA.  If this is what we have come
to, then perhaps the terrorists on 9-11 have won at 
least a small victory.    Peace,    Debby

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